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Scuba diving in Santo Domingo & Boca Chica

On the protected south coast of the Dominican Republic, diving Santo Domingo, the capital, and Boca Chica offers pleasant reefs and historical wrecks.
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Highlights

La Caleta National Underwater Park

Within the Park, two sunken ships, the Hickory and the Limon, lie within recreational limits. The Limon is today surrounded by healthy coral reef.

Cave Diving

Three water-filled cave systems near Santo Domingo, Bayahibe and Playa Dorada are ripe for exploration by tec divers. Several local guides can assist.

Diving in Santo Domingo & Boca Chica

Quick facts

While Santo Domingo and Boca Chica may not be the most desirable destinations in the Dominican Republic, they do offer some of the best dive sites around the island. This is due to the area’s protected bay and nearby Underwater National Park. In addition, Santo Domingo has long been a center of commerce in the New World, so it follows that many historical wrecks sit in its depths.

With calm currents and a shallow dive profile, most of the diving near Santo Domingo and Boca Chica is suitable to beginners. Intermediate divers can head further south where currents pick up enough to create gentle drift dives. Furthermore, some of the wrecks may lie at advanced depths and tec divers may wish to explore some of the freshwater caves nearby.

While there are a few shore dives near Boca Chica, the vast majority of dive sites are only accessible by a short speedboat ride. Some operators will utilize catamarans in order to offer a more stable journey.

Whether you choose to dive in Boca Chica, Santo Domingo, or elsewhere in the Dominican Republic, we are sure you will fall in love with the lovely conditions and outstanding variety of sites found around the island.

Keep in mind that insurance is mandatory for anyone who wants to dive in the Dominican Republic.

When to go

Diving near Santo Domingo and Boca Chica is fantastic year-round. June to November has uncrowded dive sites. December to May has the best conditions.

June to November

Santo Domingo and Boca Chica enjoy a hot and humid climate year-round, although June to November is considered the rainy season. It usually rains once a day, every day but for only short periods of time.

June to November is also hurricane season. If you are planning a trip to the Caribbean during these months, consider taking out travelers insurance on the off chance a hurricane forms during your vacation. In recent years, the DR has not sustained a direct hit from a hurricane, but several pass nearby annually.

Air temperatures during the summer months range from 77-85°F (25-30°C) while water temperatures are 79-83°F (26-28°C).

Because June to November is considered the rainy season, this is also the low season in Santo Domingo and Boca Chica. If you choose to dive in these months, you’re sure to get a great deal on flights and accommodation.

If you enjoy getting the best deals or diving at uncrowded dive sites, book your trip from June to November.

December to May

December to May is the dry season in Santo Domingo and Boca Chica. During these months, you can expect sunny, hot and mildly humid conditions. This is also the best time of year to dive on the south coast as the seas are calmest there at this time.

Air temperatures during the winter months range from 70-80°F (21-26°C) while water temperatures are 75-79°F (24-26°C).

In addition to great topside conditions for the southern coast, December to March is the best time to dive while listening to humpback whales. This is the time of year the island plays host to the humpback whales who migrate from the North Atlantic to the shores of Bavaro and Samana. As the males are there to impress their females during this season they are incredibly active and often present a spectacular show of splashing and rearing.

However, December to May also represents high season for tourism in the Caribbean. Therefore, you should book early to get a good deal on accommodation and flights.

If you wish to dive on the southern coast in locations like Santo Domingo and Boca Chica or see the mating rituals of humpback whales, book your holiday between December and May.

Rain and temperature

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Water temperature

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Where to dive

Many of the most interesting dive sites are located in La Caleta near Boca Chica. Advanced divers can explore the caves and wrecks of Santo Domingo.

    Snorkeling in Santo Domingo & Boca Chica

    There is a fair amount of snorkeling near Boca Chica. Once you arrive, you should be able to rent snorkeling equipment from the sporting equipment stands that line the beach. Then just wade out into the water and explore the nearby reef. For more abundant marine life, organize a boat tour to the outlying reef or La Caleta Underwater National Park.
    Located just off the coast of Boca Chica, La Caleta Underwater National Park is considered one of the best diving areas in the whole of the Caribbean. Here, divers will find healthy coral reefs that attract a variety of colorful creatures. The park also features three 20th Century sunken ships, including The Hickory and The UFO, a strange-looking vessel that is actually an old oil rig rather than an extraterrestrial aircraft. Closer to Santo Domingo, La Sirena Cave is often reputed to be one of the best cave dives in the world. At only 26 feet (8 meters) deep, this cave presents great training opportunities for both cavern and freshwater techniques. Divers will see plenty of stalactites and experience the clarity of ground water which can have a visibility of up to 200 feet (60 meters). These are only two of the wonderful sites surrounding Santo Domingo and Boca Chica. There are plenty more for you to explore on your Caribbean vacation.

    What to see

    Much of the Dominican Republic’s marine life is threatened by overexposure and harmful underwater practices. However, steps are being taken to create protected marine areas in the hope that plentiful marine life will soon return.

    One thing you are sure to see in Boca Chica and Santo Domingo are beautiful corals. The island is home to 35 species of coral and 12 types or gorgonians.

    In addition to these gorgeous corals, you might also spot stingrays, eagle rays, reef sharks, barracuda, small schools of fish, moray eels and crabs. Lucky divers have a chance of seeing a manatee. Of course, the invasive lionfish has created issues for the local ecosystem. If spotted, expect the dive master to kill this poisonous species.

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